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BOOKS (34)

Soldiers, lovers and murderers

Written by Friday, 12 July 2013 07:11

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Described as a “Chaplinesque autobiography that will make you laugh and cry,” A Word With You World is the searing and achingly funny life story of Dalit Kannada poet Siddalingaiah. Originally published in Kannada as Ooru Keri, it has been translated into English by Talk editor SR Ramakrishna and published by Navayana, Delhi. In this excerpt, the author gets a taste of life in a Dalit colony in Bangalore after his family migrates there from a village

A FUNNY KIND OF HURT

Written by Friday, 26 April 2013 11:02

This transaltion of Gulzar’s short stories is woven around the painful theme of division—but is laced with as much black humour as raw feeling, finds Kavitha K

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MATILDA!

Written by Friday, 26 April 2013 10:29

It’s been 25 years since Roald Dahl’s Matilda was first published. A tribute from a fan who came to the book late, but did not miss any of the fun

THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU RICH

Written by Monday, 22 April 2013 11:24

Well, not really. But Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid's new novel How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is an enriching literary experience, finds Deepa Bhasthi

'WRITING NEEDS RIYAAZ'

Written by Sunday, 14 April 2013 06:22

Mahesh Dattani's first play Where There's A Will was staged in Bangalore this week, after a gap of ten years. In an email interview, the Sahitya Akademi award-winner talks about his style of working and the state of English theatre, among other things

NAMMA NOIR ,VIA SWEDEN

Written by Friday, 05 April 2013 09:10

Launch


Namma noir, via Sweden

Ravi Menezes of Goobe's Book Republic reports from the launch of pulp writer Zac O'Yeah's new title Mr Majestic

 

Swedish by origin, South Indian by choice, and with a pseudonym like Zac O’ Yeah, he is hardly the author you can put into a box. A self-professed Bangalorean, he arrived here 20 years ago as a backpacker and decided to call it his home.

 

His latest offering, Mr Majestic: The Tout of Bengaluru published by Hachette India and launched last Saturday at the British Council, is a noir novel set in the city. The protagonist is an ace tout running a scam by luring people into the film industry. While at it, he puts great faith in karma.

 

The launch saw many curious Bangaloreans gather to listen to the Scandinavian-born author’s tales. From what one gathered, the book promises a fresher perspective on the city, as opposed to conditioned ones from locals. Zac used many examples to elucidate the difference in the way a foreigner looked at things. For instance, what happens when there is an accident involving a Porsche and a cow? The locals obsess over the car while tourists click pictures of the cow. The evening was full of such one-liners.

 

Passages from the book were read out as is customary at launches and an intensive Q&A session followed. I can’t help but admit I was cast under a spell of sorts and didn’t regret choosing the event over other plans for the evening.

 

Obituary

 

City’s chronicler passes away

 

Fondly called the chronicler of Bangalore, or more specifically that of the Cantonment, and author of Bangalore, A Century of Tales From City & Cantonment, Peter Colaco passed away last Friday, March 29, a day before his 68th birthday. The author donned many hats through his lifetime, including those of a musician, filmmaker, columnist and advertising professor. Colaco was suffering from kidney failure and had pledged his body for research purposes at St John’s Hospital a few weeks before his demise.

 

Sale

 

Discounts at Oxford

 

Those who missed The Great Oxford Sale at all Oxford Bookstore outlets, offering as much as 80 per cent discount on many titles, can cheer up a little bit. While popular titles and several heavily discounted books may have vanished thanks to the more serious book hunters, the stores still have three discounted book racks each. Books come with 80 per cent, 50 per cent and 25 per cent discounts. It may take some hard work to find those uncommon and interesting titles, but it may be well worth the effort.

 

Authorspeak

 

Tracking entrepreneurship

 

In town recently to promote her latest book, Follow Every Rainbow, Rashmi Bansal says that writers from IITs and IIMs have been successful as they write in a language people can relate to. Excerpts from an interview:

 

You started JAM, the popular youth magazine, and continue to work with the youth. What are the big trends and changes among the youth the mainstream media have ignored?

 

The coverage is there but the youth themselves are not involved in mainstream media. Television especially does not play a constructive role.

 

You have written about entrepreneurs in earlier books. What is the future for entrepreneurs in India?

 

A lot has changed in the past 10 years. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. But if you have the confidence and the patience, things do work out.

 

While there have been many books on the famous Mumbai slum Dharavi, yours (Poor Little Rich Slum) was the only one to deal exclusively with its entrepreneurial culture. What got you interested in it?

 

The idea came from my co-author Deepak Gandhi. He found this whole entrepreneurial drive within the slum very interesting. Though many had written about Dharavi, we wanted to write a different book. We were surprised to see what goes in the slum. People must not just look at it from the outside. We wanted to write about this and tell it to people and we didn’t want it to be a depressing book.

 

A lot of IIT/ IIM alumni have turned to writing, including you. What is it that gives them the edge?

 

Honestly, I don’t have an answer for that. I always wanted to be a writer. Though I did management I was never too keen on it. The reason why most of the writers from IIMs and

IITs click with the audience is because they do not have an English Literature background. Their writing is easy and people can relate to their language.

 

You are known to use ‘Hinglish’ in your writing. Don’t you think that spoils the prose?

 

It depends on why I am writing it. Usually when I interview people they speak to me in Hindi. I translate most of the text into English but I retain certain words in Hindi because if I translate it, it loses its flavour. I do get complaints from people about Hindi words in my writing but I can’t please everyone. I do provide translations for some of the words now.

 

If your writing career had not taken off, what would you have done professionally?

 

I have been a writer for 25 years. I have worked as a freelancer. I have also worked for TV channels. So even if I hadn’t become a fullfledged writer, I may have at least worked in a magazine. I would have written for something.

 

What is your next book going to be about?

 

I have many ideas in my mind—one of them is to write about entrepreneurs from small towns.

THE MYTH (RE)MAKERS

Written by Monday, 01 April 2013 10:02

‘Man turning into God isn’t new’


This week, we talk to two authors—Amish Tripathi and Bangalore’s own Samhita Arni—best-known for their fictional interpretations of mythological themes and characters

You were rejected by many publishers. What kept you motivated throughout that phase?

 

I was obviously very depressed and felt dejected. More than 20 publishers rejected me; I stopped keeping a count of them. I had decided if no one is backing me, I will back myself. My father always told me to do what you believe in and not care about the results.

 

What is easier, being an investment banker or a writer?

 

Both are difficult, but when I was a banker I used to be aggressive and would often lose my temper. After I started writing, I’ve become a much better person. I feel happy now.

 

Did you have a plan B in case your writing career didn’t take off?

 

I had not resigned from my job when I had written my first two books. So, if I hadn’t done well in writing, I would’ve still had my job.

 

In your trilogy, you portray Shiva as a man whom legend turned into a God; didn’t you fear a backlash from Hindutva groups?

 

Not at all, because I am not writing anything new. This myth of man turning into God has been in India for long. Man turning into God is not new. People should be happy because I’m writing about our mythology.

 

You rationalise mythology and make it sound like history. What is the basis of your research?

 

There are two ways of approaching this. One is the approach of the historian. For example, there is the story of emperor Ashok, where there is evidence to back it up. The second approach is the philosophical approach, where the myth itself is not treated as such. I usually use the first approach in my research.

 

Is it only Hindu mythology that interests you?

 

The reason I write about Hindu mythology is that I know it a lot better. I grew up with it. But I have read the Quran and the Bible. If any story ideas strike me, I will write about them.

 

Amish was in the city recently for the launch of his new book, The Oath of the Vayuputras

 

In the news

 

Odd title of the year

 

Quirky literary award The Diagram Prize has a simple agenda—to reward the year’s oddest book title. And this year, the prize has gone to Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop, a supernaturally tinged barnyard manual by Reginald Bakeley. Subtitled “and other practical advice in our campaign against the fairy kingdom,” its Massachusetts-based publisher Conari Press describes it as the “the essential primer for banishing the dark fairy creatures that are lurking in the dark corners and crevices of your life.” Other finalists included How Tea Cosies Changed the World, Was Hitler Ill? and God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis.

 

RIP Chinua Achebe

 

Perhaps the most-influential voice in the history of African literature, Chinua Achebe died after a short illness. A scholar, poet, and social critic, 82-year-old Achebe is best known for bringing the trials and tribulations of Nigeria to the world’s consciousness for the last half century. His first novel, the groundbreaking Things Fall Apart is the most-widely read book in African literature and has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide. In the words of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Achebe “brought Africa to the rest of the world.”

 

‘Myths are eternal’

 

Given the the sheer number of such titles being released, what do you think draws people to mythology-based fiction?

 

I think it’s because myths are eternal; they address issues that somehow—no matter how much things change—are relevant to every society. And they are constantly retold, in a way that reflects the society of the reteller’s time. This has happened in the past—that’s why there are countless versions of the Ramayana. I see my own work as a continuation of this tradition.

 

What inspired your interpretation of a section of the Ramayana?

 

The fact that the Ramayana is still so much part of conversation in India today—it is so much a part of the way we talk and think. It’s still referred to in politics, in court judgments, in advertisements and television shows.

 

What are the challenges of writing a feminist take on an epic? How do you deal with the patriarchal values that are inherent to them?

 

Are the epics inherently patriarchal? I’m not sure. I think they present societies that are patriarchal—but figures like Kunthi, Draupadi and Gandhari are forceful in their own right. Although their lives are constrained, they’re strong characters. Some of the oral traditions subvert the patriarchal bias in the Ramayana and criticise it-through singing in Sita’s voice, or singing about the hardships she faces. As for a feminist take, I think the greatest challenge is to break away from the mainstream, populist take on these epics.

 

What boundaries do you set, particularly plot-related ones, when retelling epics that have cultural and religious sentiment attached to them?

 

I didn’t want to hurt or cross the line in this book. I’ve asked questions, but haven’t answered them myself directly. Instead, I’ve tried to provoke the reader into answering them. For some, though, even asking questions is problematic.

 

Samhita Arni is the author of the acclaimed Mahabharata— A Child’s View, Sita’s Ramayana and the recently released The Missing Queen

 

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